Big O Tires

With Phil Jackson out, will the Knicks go after Warriors GM Bob Myers?

With Phil Jackson out, will the Knicks go after Warriors GM Bob Myers?

Steve Kerr and Bob Myers were hundreds of miles away from each other, yet bolted upright in bed late Tuesday, slathered in sweat and dread for very different reasons from the same source.

The New York Knickerbockers.

For Kerr, it was the horror of what could have been three years ago if he had decided to sign on to Phil Jackson’s paint factory fire instead of going west and landing in the middle of the next budding dynasty in NBA history. Of course, he wouldn’t have hurt his back jumping up to complain about a call in the 2015 Finals because the Knicks wouldn’t have gone to the Finals, but that’s too parallel universe for me.

For Myers, it was a different problem, specifically whether or to become the first general manager in modern sports history to be perpetually unaccessible by phone, simply out of fear of getting That Call from James Dolan and being offered three times his current salary and the title of Vice-Emperor.

Because that’s the only thing the Knicks have, and the only thing the Knicks have ever had – pots of money to work in the belly of the cultural beast.

And New York money has always had a way of turning heads, as though money in any other part of the country is somehow pegged to the Canadian dollar. It’s what Dolan sells when he chases a candidate – the chance to conquer the unconquerable – and there’s always some sap, er, candidate willing to buy in.

But Kerr, tempted by Jackson’s magical rhetoric, resisted because he saw better opportunities elsewhere – and because failing with the Knicks is a fast pass back to the second analyst’s chair at TNT.

And Myers will almost surely be asked by Dolan (or one of his gremlins) to abandon his current role as Executive of the Year to get obscenely wealthier and try to clear the wreckage and point the franchise in a recognizable direction.

That, despite the fact that the Knicks have historically been more rumor than fact. They have made the playoffs less often by percentage than any original franchise other than Philadelphia/San Francisco/Golden State and Rochester/Cincinnati/Kansas City/Omaha/Sacramento. They’ve won four fewer division titles than the Miami Heat despite having 42 more cracks at it. They’ve been a formidable foe only intermittently, and if they didn’t have the illusory advantage of hiding behind Madison Square Garden, they’d be about as nationally relevant as the Kings. They probably would have been relocated a couple of times by now and be working out of Las Vegas by now.

In short, the Knicks are smoke and mirrors in a velvet floor-length coat, have been that almost their entire history, and the fact that Jackson drove them deeper into the earth’s crust and with more willful orneriness only makes their historical irrelevance more irksome.

(And yes, the Warriors were in an even more parlous historical state than the Knicks were before 2015, so it isn’t like their history is some glorious medley that makes all who hear it break out in dance. They’re the hot item on the menu now, true, but as a historical artifact they are aggressively meh).

But Dolan has his own bent memory, and he will know that he lost out on Kerr. So why wouldn’t he smooth-talk Myers (and if you’ve heard Dolan’s voice, you know what a stretch that is) with the two things that prop up the Knicks as a concept – more money than Belgium, and the self-obsessed myth of New York? If he doesn’t, it would border on corporate malfeasance.

Now maybe talking to Myers will bring back horrible memories of the Don Nelson Era, which was better than the Jackson Era only in that it came undone quicker and was fixed faster. But Dolan has never learned from his past mistakes because of his unerring gift for making them the mistakes of others, and he will chase the hottest new name with the biggest bag of cash and the most fevered line of arglebargle.

And maybe Myers sees the money Jerry West is getting to be a more powerful consigliere in Los Angeles than he was in Oakland, and says, “This is the window, right here.”

And that’s why he woke up with such a start when his subconscious heard the word that Jackson was being binned. He suspected that phone call from the DolanCave would come, and he knew either that he would have to throw his phone in the toilet, or get used to saying things like, “Yes, honey, I know you sound like my wife, but how do I know you’re really you and not someone from the Knicks” or “I don’t care if he’s offering me Kristaps Porzingis for Kevon Looney. Tell him I’m not in for him, ever.”

Such are the perils of life on top. The bottom is always a phone call away. Ask Phil Jackson. Ask the triangle offense. Ask Carmelo Anthony.

Hell, just ask the Knicks about being the Knicks. Who would know better?

Not a chicken-and-egg discussion: Three reasons why Giants are so boring

Not a chicken-and-egg discussion: Three reasons why Giants are so boring

To best understand what has happened to the San Francisco Giants, one must first decide whether or not they have abandoned hope, or just energy.

I mean, that is the new kneejerk position based on losing 18 of 22 games this month by an average margin of more than a run and a half per game, losing to the Phillies, Royals, Braves and Mets, falling five games behind the San Diego Padres and eight games behind the non-noisy neighbors in Oakland, and since the All-Star Break last year, they are 57-93, the equivalent of the third-worst record in franchise history.

Really, to see a happy thing in this team other than Buster Posey is an act of rankest delusion. What hope would you expend on this team?

But there’s a new element involved now, if you take Ken Rosenthal’s report for FoxSports.com on the team’s internal crises at face value.

Apparently the Giants are boring their own management.

According to Rosenthal, the almost stultifying quiet of the clubhouse has become a concern to general manager Bobby Evans and perhaps even to those to whom he reports.

In citing the contributions of such ‘edgy” personalities as Pat Burrell, Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff in 2010, Hunter Pence in ’12 and Pence, Michael Morse and Pablo Sandoval (huh?) in ’14, Rosenthal suggested that the team is too staid – something that winning 38 percent of your games for an entire calendar year will do to you.

“I don’t think I can be definitive in my answers,” Evans was quoted by Rosenthal as saying, “but it’s not lost on us that we’re maybe a little quieter clubhouse than we’ve been in the past. I can’t answer that as being a factor or not.” He then followed up with the always circuitous they’d-be-louder-if-we-weren’t-such-a-tedious-watch argument, which seems self-evident but can’t really be proven one way or another.

But Rosenthal also credited “some with the Giants” as suggesting that the team even misses Angel Pagan, who allegedly help unite the clubhouse because so few of them liked him.

And now we’ve hit the motherlode of bizarre excuses. Angel Pagan is hurting the Giants far more by leaving them than by being with them. And this is, if you’ll pardon the expression, richly stupid.

Not Rosenthal, whom we can presume did his usual diligent work and correctly quoted “some with.” No, our problem is with the thinking that inspired “some with,” because you have to go a long way to make that explanation stick.

The Giants are playing terribly because, well, they are. Their pitching, which has to be in the top sixth of the league for this plan to work, is below average in many of the important metrics. Their offense is horrendous. Their outfield is a disaster. They are 27-51 purely on the merits.

That they are also boring is coincidence rather than causation, because nobody said they were boring after the All-Star Break last year, and nobody accused them of being boring in Game 4 of the National League Division Series with Chicago.

Boring is what you seize on when every other excuse, including the Mark Melancon-doesn’t-stretch-when-he’s-supposed-to straw man Rosenthal also threw up for chewing.

The truth is this, as much as anything. They are bad. They didn’t think they would be bad. They thought the second half of last year was an aberration rather than a harbinger, and they thought they could have gone to the World Series but for one hideous inning. And they are apparently shocked by this for some reason.

So, are they moping, or are they quitting? Do they need a clubhouse visit from Brian Sabean at his most pissed? What’s the thing that makes them fun guys again – other than, say, a five-way trade that gets them Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger and Nolan Arenado?

Because there’s your problem. Yes, they certainly are boring – downright stultifying, in fact. But this is not a chicken-and-egg discussion. They’re boring because they’ve been brutal, because they were slow to address their needs after misdiagnosing their problems, and because all their calculations from years gone by have gone badly wrong.

But if you really think boring is the issue, let’s have Bruce Bochy dress in a clown suit and Pence play outfield in just a sliding pants and a derby, and have one inning per game designated as the Wild Dingo Surprise Inning, in which wild dingoes are loosed upon the field to terrorize the players and/or fans.

See how many wins you get then.

Most talked-about draft in perhaps ever delivered one extraordinary thing

Most talked-about draft in perhaps ever delivered one extraordinary thing

The NBA Draft was a resounding success for the chattering classes – that is, until it actually happened, at which point all the potential scenarios were reduced to reality, and as we are coming to learn, nobody much likes reality any more.

After all, what’s more fun – arguing about where Jimmy Butler was going to be traded, or the trade that sent him to Minnesota itself? Let me help you with that – it was the first one.

Before the act, anything is possible, and therefore anything can be suggested. Once the act is completed, though?

Scoreboard. End of discussion. Fun dies. Go home.

Try this is you don't think so:

Fact: Lonzo Ball wants to be a Laker. Hilarious supposition that drives conversation (and drinks) across the nation: What if he doesn’t get to be a Laker and his father pulls his own head off like a champagne cork? Result that ends all discussion: Lonzo Ball is a Laker.

And then it ratchets itself again. Hilarious re-supposition that re-energizes the argumentals: How good will Lonzo Ball be? Result that ends all discussion: How good he actually is. Tie-breaker: His dad pulling his own head off like a champagne cork.

This is how daily fantasy became popular – the creation of a different reality or realities that have nothing to do with the actual games played by the actual people. This is also how esports became a thing – creatures of the imagination fighting other creatures of the imagination over fictional glories.

Hell, it’s why the best day of the college basketball season is the day the 68-team NCAA tournament bracket is filled. The games ruin it by being the definitive word on the bracket.

It is, in short, the triumph of the process over the actual deed – interactive make-believe gone mad.

So it was Thursday night. The most talked-about draft in perhaps ever which delivered one extraordinary thing – the Butler trade to Minnesota rather than Boston or Cleveland. Everything else about the evening was noise signifying chalk. All the players everyone thought would go high went high, the ones in the middle were pretty much mid-level draftees, and the bottom twenty were . . . well, what bottom 20 picks usually are: G-Leaguers.

There weren’t any goofy foreigners, no stretches, no spite-filled Kristaps Porzingis trade by a fulminating Phil Jackson. Nobody did anything aggressively stupid or jaw-droppingly brilliant, which without all the pre-draft yelling and screaming would have made this a fairly bland evening.

The lesson, then, is this: In the new world of show-me-something-shiny-right-now, the shiny part of the NBA draft was the run-up. And we love the run-up, almost more than we love the games.

Or maybe we’re just better as a nation at the run-up. The NFL Draft is its own industry, right down to the large-men-running-in-their-underwear degrade-o-thon known as the combine. The NHL this year doubled down with an expansion draft the day before its amateur draft. The pregame show does a better number than the rest of the day, and since the new media truth is that the pregame show is all day, every day, we have hooked ourselves on conversations about what might be and flit about like a hummingbird on Ritalin to the next what-might-be thing.

This preference for the individually tailored virtual universe over the one we all actually live in is not something to be lamented or wept over. It just is, and it will remain that way until the games just wither and die and all there is talking about something that actually will never happen instead of a million things that might.

In that moment, the robots will win. Or more precisely, they’ll get to the round of sixteen, and we can all argue about whether they would be better off meeting the Cylons or the shape-shifters in the regional final.